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WFH can be great for Diversity & Inclusion

How are you managing the diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy inside your business? The traditional process begins by defining a benchmark – do we have a problem? Once you know where problems might exist then priorities can be set, and objectives created. When these objectives are communicated the idea is that everyone then lines up behind the plan and the problem is solved.

How are you managing the diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy inside your business? The traditional process begins by defining a benchmark – do we have a problem? Once you know where problems might exist then priorities can be set, and objectives created. When these objectives are communicated the idea is that everyone then lines up behind the plan and the problem is solved.

We all know it never really works like this. People who object to the plan will create roadblocks, even if it’s just because they want to continue doing things the old way. An effective D&I strategy is like any other change programme – it requires visible support from the top and will require constant communication of a vision before results can be measured. It requires an ongoing cultural change, not just once-only actions.

But why is D&I now considered so important?

  • Boston Consulting Group surveyed 1,700 companies in 8 countries and found a direct correlation between companies that embrace diversity also being more innovative – and more profitable.
  • Glassdoor found that 76% of job seekers and employees believe that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating where they want to work.
  • McKinsey research indicates that companies embracing gender and ethnic diversity can expect a financial performance boost of 25% compared to industry peers.

A D&I strategy is becoming essential for companies that want to attract the best talent and outperform their competition, but as I mentioned when opening, it can be a cultural shift that needs an enormous amount of effort from the HR team. How can it be accelerated?

Surprisingly, this is one positive lesson from the Covid-19 pandemic. Offering jobs that can be performed from home (WFH) naturally taps into new pools of talent that could not, or may not, have ever wanted to work in your office.

Forbes recently suggested that many marginalised groups of people can be enticed back into the workforce. Examples are new parents, especially single ones. Caregivers looking after ageing or ill family members. People with a physical disability that makes commuting or navigating an office difficult.

The opportunities are endless once you start listing them. Think about the enormous pool of older retired people with expertise that could make them really valuable in a customer service role – but these are also people who may not want to be surrounded by Gen Z peers in a contact centre.

This article has some useful suggestions on how to modify your hiring strategy so that WFH job options can create immediate improvement in D&I. It doesn’t need to be complex. A few small changes, such as no longer requiring employees to be within commuting distance of the office or initially focusing on the diversity of your HR team, can make a dramatic difference.

Your prospective employees are looking for companies with a strong vision for D&I so you can only attract the best if you take this seriously. But as the research demonstrates, this also has the potential to boost innovation and profits – it’s a genuine win-win situation where leveraging your WFH programme can give D&I an immediate boost.

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